A cruise liner has begun offering legal same-sex weddings at sea, in a new first.
P&O Cruises this week became the first British cruise line to offer same sex weddings at sea, with ceremonies beginning in January 2018.
The change comes after a court victory in Bermuda, where the country’s Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex weddings.
As the company’s fleet is primarily registered in Bermuda, it is able to offer legally-recognised same-sex unions at sea for the first time.
UK law forbids any marriage to be carried out at sea, which is why many cruise companies who wish to perform marriages register in other countries.
Couples tying the knot on P&O ships will be issued a Bermudan marriage certificate.
The first ceremony is set to be held in the Caribbean in January 2018, aboard the ship Azura.
P&O Cruises exec Paul Ludlow said: “I am delighted that following this much anticipated change in the legalities we are now the first British cruise line to be able to arrange same sex weddings on board.
“Weddings at sea are very romantic and getting married by the Captain in the middle of the ocean is an unforgettable experience.”
According to the company, the wedding ceremony will usually be performed by the ship’s Captain, unless they are “unavailable”.
PinkNews asked whether this means Captains will be offered an opt-out from performing same-sex wedding ceremonies if they have a religious objection to doing so.
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A P&O spokesperson said: “All our captains are very supportive and look forward to conducting many ceremonies on board.”
The first same-sex coupled tied the knot in Bermuda earlier this year, after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that a ban on same-sex unions is a discriminatory violation of human rights.
The Bermudan government subsequently confirmed it would not appeal against the ruling.
However, the issue may not remain settled indefinitely.
An MP has already introduced a bill which would re-ban same-sex marriage in Bermuda.
The bill, which is likely to win support from anti-LGBT lawmakers, could risk derailing the plans entirely.
However, Minister of Home Affairs Patricia Gordon Pamplin insisted: “The Government acknowledges the Supreme Court ruling and upon legal advice, we have determined that we will not lodge an appeal against the judgment.
“While we accept that wide spread support of this very sensitive and emotive issue of marriage equality is difficult to achieve, we do, however, recognize that as a community we must be able to have open and honest conversations which help to encourage awareness, understanding, tolerance and respect for one another.
“We will abide by the decision of the judiciary, and will implement the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the judgement.”